Charlotte-based Bank of America has eliminated a free checking account popular with lower-income customers.
The bank is now requiring customers to keep more money in their accounts to avoid a $12 monthly fee.
A national petition on change.org has more than 52,000 signatures from people begging the bank not to end its free checking accounts.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the bank switched its e-banking customers into the new accounts this month.
E-checking, which launched in 2010, had a monthly fee of $8.95, but customers could avoid the fee by using online banking and not using a teller.
Now, those customers will have to pay a $12 monthly fee unless they maintain a minimum daily balance of at least $1,500 or make a direct deposit of $250 or more.
Jessica Wassman said her boyfriend just learned about Bank of America’s plan to end its e-checking accounts and transfer those customers to core checking accounts.
"It did seem a little unfair,” Wassman said. “If you don't make a certain amount of money, you get penalized for it. It was a little insulting. The cost of living is going up, but poverty is still big and people can't afford simple things.”
Economist John Connaughton said checking accounts cost banks money and, with the economy improving, said customers can expect higher bank fees.
"When you start to see 4 percent unemployment, those are the types of things that happen,” Connaughton said.
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